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Howard W. Koch
Boris Karloff, Tom Duggan, Jana Lund
Writing Credits:
Richard Landau, George Worthing Yates

Needing money, the last of the Frankensteins leases his castle out to a film company as he tries to complete his ancestor's gruesome experiments at creating life.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 4/9/2019

• Audio Commentary with Actor Charlotte Austin and Historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns
• TV Spot


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Frankenstein 1970 [Blu-Ray] (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 30, 2019)

After the success of 1931’s seminal Frankenstein, Boris Karloff played the creature only two more times. Karloff returned to this role for 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein and 1939’s Son of Frankenstein.

This doesn’t mean Karloff avoided the character entirely, as he appeared in various Frankenstein efforts via different parts. With 1958’s Frankenstein 1970, Karloff arrives as the creature’s creator.

Baron Victor von Frankenstein (Karloff) agrees to let a crew use his castle for a TV movie about the family legend. This displeases the Baron, but he needs the cash to fund his experiments.

The Baron plans to use the money to get a nuclear reactor to renew the clan’s old monster-making ways. The Baron still needs body parts, so he settles on a convenient source: the film crew.

In the annals of “Perplexing Movie Titles”, Frankenstein 1970 deserves mention. Why did the filmmakers give it that name?

I have no idea, as we get only the most minor indications the story takes place anywhere but the “here and now” of 1958. I guess the producers though it sounded “futuristic”, but it makes little actual sense, as the only allusions to 1970 remain essentially hidden.

If the end result succeeded, I’d focus less on the movie’s awkward title. Alas, 1970 wastes Karloff’s return to the legend with a slow, dull affair.

1970 actually starts pretty well, as it opens with a clever “fake-out” sequence. We watch as a monster terrorizes a pretty young woman – and then learn it’s all part of a movie shoot.

Sure, we’ve seen that kind of tease many times over the last 60 years, but it feels clever for a movie from 1958. I’ll admit it caught me by surprise.

The first time, that is, as 1970 doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. It attempts the same kind of fake-out later in the tale, and that scene proves substantially less effective.

I suspect the filmmakers resorted to a reprise of the gimmick out of creative desperation. Even at a mere 83 minutes, 1970 proves short on story and inspiration.

A chatty affair, 1970 often feels like little more than a collection of soliloquies by the Baron. We get endless rants from our lead, none of which feel especially interesting.

So heavily does the film focus on the Baron and his musings, 1970 never does much to develop the other characters. You’ll be lucky to remember any of their names, as the movie uses them as potential victims more than actual personalities.

This becomes Karloff’s project to carry or lose, and unfortunately, he fumbles. Karloff hams up a storm and leaves the impression that he lacks much creative investment in the film.

Can I blame him? Not really, as the thin plot and characters don’t seem worthy of his talents. Still, it seems like a shame that Karloff’s return to Frankenstein features him in such a silly performance.

1970 takes forever to reveal the creature, as we don’t see the monster until about two-thirds of the way into the film. Even then, the cheap-o production keeps him wrapped in bandages, all in an obvious attempt to save money.

Would anyone remember Frankenstein 1970 without Karloff’s presence? I seriously doubt it, as only Boris gives the flick any form of notoriety, and even the great Karloff can’t rescue this stinker.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C/ Bonus C+

Frankenstein 1970 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent but somewhat erratic image.

Sharpness displayed the most significant distractions, as a mix of shots came across as a bit soft, especially in wider elements. Much of the movie showed fairly good definition, but too much of it tended to seem less than concise.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed natural, and the image lacked print flaws.

Black levels could come across as a little flat and murky, but for the most part they appeared deep and nicely dark, with solid tones that didn't look too heavy. Shadow detail was similarly fine, as the low-light situations displayed appropriate levels of nuance without excessive thickness. Ultimately, 1970 remained completely watchable, but the different concerns knocked it down to a “B-“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA stereo soundtrack, it provided a fairly monaural impression. While music spread across the front channels, it did so in an unconvincing manner.

This meant that although the mix used the speakers, it didn’t boast obvious stereo presence. It felt more like “broad mono” than actual stereo.

Audio quality seemed dated, especially as it related to speech. The lines showed a fair amount of sibilance and tended to appear edgier than I’d like.

Music and effects lacked distortion, but they also failed to boast much range, so they came across as somewhat thin and tinny. No source noise impacted the proceedings. This became an inconsistent track.

In addition to a TV spot, the Blu-ray provides an audio commentary from actor Charlotte Austin and historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of cast and crew, various filmmaking domains, genre connections and general anecdotes.

Austin handles most of those stories from the set, while Burns chimes in mainly when it comes to genre domains and makeup effects. This leaves Weaver to carry the historical elements, and as usual, he does well.

All three mesh to make this a pretty enjoyable and informative piece. While I’d prefer Weaver solo because he’s so good at the commentary gig, I still feel happy with the way this one plays.

With Boris Karloff in tow, Frankenstein 1970 boasted some potential. Unfortunately, the movie lacks any form of thrills or entertainment value, and even the great Karloff can’t save it. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture, erratic audio and a fun commentary. Leave Frankenstein 1970 on the shelf, as it offers a film unworthy of its star.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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